• Daily Aliya for Korach, Shvi’i (7th Aliya)

    From Chabad.org: The Levites, too, will not receive a share of the land of Israel. Instead they are entitled to a tenth of all the Israelites’ crops–this in return for the Tabernacle and Temple services which they render. Upon receiving this tithe, the Levites must, in turn, separate a tenth of this tithe and give it to the priests.

    So the Levites get 10% of everyone’s crops, and they must give 10% of that to the priests. This underscores the importance of giving, regardless of how or how much you have. As Rav Dessler explains, giving is what makes us love others, not receiving. The more you “invest” in those around you by giving them love, food, money, attention or respect, the more you grow to appreciate and love them, and the phenomenon grows exponentially from there. But it all starts by giving (this is where I should link you do the Donate page for Lelamed.com, but I won’t).

  • Daily Aliya for Korach, Shishi (6th Aliya)

    From Chabad.org: G‑d commands Moses to return “Aaron’s staff” to the Holy of Holies, where it is to remain for perpetuity. The Jews express to Moses their fear of mistakenly entering a restricted area of the Tabernacle, and dying as a result. In response, G‑d commands the priests and the Levites to carefully guard the Tabernacle, to prevent unauthorized entry by non-priests. The Torah then lists the various gifts to which the priests were entitled. These include the privilege of eating certain sacrifices, as well as select portions of other sacrifices; receiving the five shekels for the redemption of Israelite firstborn sons; a portion of all grain, oil, and wine crops; the “first fruit”; and more. Aaron is informed that his descendents will not receive a portion in the land of Israel–instead, G‑d is their inheritance and portion.

    The staff is meant to dissuade those rebellious ones from complaining, but the Passuk says that “their complaints will stop” (utechal telunotam), “complaints” being plural, but “stop” being singular. Why the discrepancy? Is it one complaint that this staff will deter, or many? Rashi analyzes the grammar and determines that the word used to mean “complaints” is actually a collective singular noun, so it makes sense that “stop” is singular. Nonetheless, logic would dictate that this staff should deter more than just one complaint. It could be, however, that complaints all come from the same lack of faith, and rather than focusing on the symptoms, the Torah focuses on the disease. How a staff can help deter someone from complaining is a discussion for another time (maybe next year’s Aliya?).

  • Daily Aliya for Korach, Chamishi (5th Aliya)

    From Chabad.org: This Aliya describes the “test of the staffs.” G‑d tells Moses to take a staff from each of the twelve tribes, with the name of each tribe’s prince written upon their staff. Another staff was taken to represent the tribe of Levi, and Aaron’s name was written on that staff. These staffs were placed overnight in the Holy of Holies chamber of the Tabernacle. Next morning they were removed, and miraculously Aaron’s staff had budded with almond blossoms and almonds. This was further proof that Aaron was G‑d’s choice for High Priest.

    Of all the random miracles, ripe almonds growing overnight on a stick with a tribal leader’s name on it is pretty high on the list. But since we know nothing in the Torah is random, ripe almonds must represent something more. Rashi helps by saying that almonds are the fastest growing “fruits”, and it represents the possibility of immediate reward/punishment by G-d. G-d could have chosen to sprout fruits that normally take longer, but instead left the Israelites with a message of warning for those that question Him, and a lasting message for those that adhere to His word.

  • Daily Aliya for Korach, Revi’i (4th Aliya)

    From Chabad.org: G‑d instructs Moses and Aaron: “Separate yourselves from the community, and I will destroy them in an instant.” And indeed, a plague struck the nation, and many thousands were dying. Moses tells Aaron to quickly take a firepan with incense and go into the midst of the congregation and atone for their sin. Aaron does so. He stands “between the living and the dead,” and the plague is halted.

    Apparently the thought process of Korach and his men contaminated some others, and a plague started to cleanse this evil. But why use the very firepan and incense to atone and stop the plague, when that was the very item used to sin? the Medrash Agaddah explains that the Israelites were slandering and vilifying the incense, saying that it was a deadly poison. G-d’s response is to show them that the very incense that was used to sin is the incense that will save them, proving that it was the sin that caused their demise. Same action, different results. And the only difference is the thought process behind them.

  • Daily Aliya for Korach, Shlishi (3rd Aliya)

    From Chabad.org: G‑d is angered by the Jews’ association with Korach, and wishes to destroy them. Moses and Aaron pray on the Jews’ behalf and the decree is averted. The earth opens up and swallows Korach and his family, and a heavenly fire consumes the rest of the 250 rebels. Moses instructs Aaron’s son Elazar to retrieve the frying pans which were used for the incense offering, to flatten them and plate the altar with them–a visible deterrent for any individual who ever wishes to challenge Aaron’s priesthood. The next day, the community complains that Moses and Aaron are to be blamed for the deaths of “G‑d’s people.”

    As we reach the crux of the Korach confrontation, we reach about Moshe telling the people that the next morning they will see that everything he’s said and done is all G-d’s doing and wishes, and the proof will be that Korach and his followers will die an unnatural death. Sure enough, everyone is instructed to keep their distance, and Korach and his gang are swallowed by the ground. Incredibly, the very next day the Jews complain to Moshe that he’s killed people of the Lord (6). After all the elaborate explanations and presentation proving that it’s G-d behind all this, they still claim that it’s Moshe’s doing. Yet, the Torah doesn’t describe anger or disappointment by either Moshe or G-d. Rather, it lets it go and moves on to describing the heavenly cloud that lowered. An interesting anecdote to complaints following a monumental event. Perhaps human nature was allowed a day to process, to vent, and then move on, as everyone apparently did.

  • Daily Aliya for Korach, Sheni (2nd Aliya)

    From Chabad.org: Moses pleads with G‑d not to accept the incense offering of the rebellious group. Korach spends the night inciting the Jews against Moses, and gathers them all to the entrance of the Tabernacle to witness the grand spectacle. G‑d’s glory appears.

    Korach’s complaint to G-d was that upon leaving Egypt they were promised this land flowing with milk and honey, and they never got it. And now they were told that they’ll end up dying in the desert. But had they listened to the right spies, they would have realized that they were actually so close to entering this promised land, and they chose to believe the negative spies, instead of the truthful ones. Yet they were so convinced that they chose correctly that in THEIR mind they were never offered a flowing land. It’s scary to think of how the mind will warp reality to make it fit its thoughts, with sometimes total disregard for actual reality. In this case we have the perspective to realize the mistake, and perhaps learn from it.

  • Daily Aliya for Korach, Rishon (1st Aliya)

    From Chabad.org: General Overview: Korach stages a rebellion against Moses, accusing him of a power grab. He and his entourage are swallowed up by the earth. The people protest, and a plague ensues. Of the staffs submitted by all the tribes, only Aaron‘s blossoms; proving that he is G‑d‘s chosen. The Israelites are instructed the various presents due to the priests and Levites.

    In the first Aliya, Korach, Moses’ first cousin, stages a rebellion against Moses and Aaron. Together with a few ringleaders, he gathers 250 men of renown and accuses Moses and Aaron of power hoarding. “The entire congregation is holy, and the L-rd is in their midst. So why do you raise yourselves above the L-rd’s assembly?” They took specific issue with the appointment of Aaron as High Priest. Moses proposes that on the following day they all participate in a test which would determine who indeed was worthy of the mantle of High Priest. Everyone would bring an incense offering to the Tabernacle, and G‑d would make known His choice for High Priest. Moses then tries to placate the rebellious group, unsuccessfully attempting to dissuade them from participating in this suicidal test.

  • Weekly Dvar For Lech Lecha 5770


    In Parshat Lech Lecha, among the blessings that Avraham was to receive for leaving all that he had was the blessing that he himself should be a blessing (12:2). How does one become a blessing? Furthermore, Rashi comments that G-d promised Avraham that although he would be identified with Yitzchak and Yakov, any such blessings would end with Avraham’s name at its conclusion. If the sages are correct that Yitzchak and Yakov reached higher levels than Avraham, what made him so special that any blessing would end with him?

    Rav Moshe Feinstein explains that Avraham merited greater distinction because he was the first to establish faith in Hashem (G-d). Although those after him reached greater heights, Avraham’s accomplishments were more worthy. Maybe this can explain how Avraham himself became the blessing: Taking initiative and starting something you believe is important for society is a blessing on its own, because it lays the framework for others to build on it! G-d promised Avraham, and in turn promised us, that, if we become leaders and initiators, our initial efforts will never be forgotten and we will always be remembered as a blessing!

  • Daily Aliya for Shelach, Shvi’i (7th Aliya)

    From Chabad.org: We now learn the rules regarding an individual who is guilty of an idolatrous practice — whether inadvertently or intentionally. A man is found desecrating the Shabbat, and is executed. The last part of this week’s reading discusses the commandment of putting tzitzit (fringes) on four-cornered garments. When looking at the fringes we remember all the commandments and refrain from following the temptations of the heart.

     Why is the Mitzvah (commandment) of tzitzit so important that it’s mentioned twice a day? Some say that the blue string reminds us of water, which reminds us of heaven, which would remind us of G-d. A bit far fetched, but I guess if we learn to associate all those things, it would work. But tzitzit also represent the possibility of always performing a positive commandment. With every second that we wear the tzitzit we get a mitzvah, plus the added benefit of remembering the others. It possibly represents doing what we can right now, as well as thinking of other good deeds we can do in the future, thereby representing the present and the future in a positive color (blue). Not a bad thing to keep in mind as often as possible…

  • Daily Aliya for Shelach, Shishi (6th Aliya)

    From Chabad.org: The mitzvah of challah is contained in this Aliya: when one kneads dough, a portion must be taken and given to the priest. If the Sanhedrin (rabbinic supreme court) erroneously permits an act of idolatry, and the community acts upon this permission, the Sanhedrin must bring a special sin-offering, detailed in this section.

    I wonder if Vegas could place odds on the Rabbinic Supreme Court mistakenly permitting idolatry, what they would be. Nonetheless, with the Jews’ magnitude of sins raised to new levels previously in this Parsha, it’s no surprise that even this was now a possibility. Contrary to initial perception, this isn’t a condemnation, it’s stating the real truth that mistakes can and WILL happen, and as long as we understand that the mistakes we make are mistakes and not statements against our beliefs, nothing is beyond forgiveness, even violating one of the ten commandments. This is an important quality to emulate, that of forgiveness of loved ones that have made mistakes, so long as the understanding is there, that it was in fact a mistake, and not a new reality.

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